Indiana Animal Life

Pussy-willows, jack-in-the-pulpits, dainty spring beauties, and great masses of violets are among the earliest arrivals of the year in meadows and oak openings and along the streams. Blue lupine, one of the loveliest of wild flowers, covers the slopes in early May; soon the rue anemone raises its pinkish blossom from a whorl of leaves, then comes the wood anemone, with its single deep pink flower. Summer brings sweet clover and the ox-eyed daisy, with its yellow center and white petals; corncockle, with a beautiful purple-pink blossom; and the wild carrot, or Queen Anne's lace, with finely divided leaves and large umbels of white flowers. Goldenrod, asters, and sunflowers are perhaps the most striking and conspicuous of all the autumn flowers, and the late fall brings the fringed gentian, shaped like a beautiful deep blue vase, from the top of which drop four deeply fringed lobes of violet.

Of the 66 species of mammals found in pioneer Indiana, at least 14, including the bear and wild cat, no longer inhabit the region. Although timber wolves and coyotes are occasionally reported in the northern woodlands, the red fox is the only carnivorous animal thriving today in the State. Other animals frequently hunted and trapped are the rabbit, muskrat, raccoon, woodchuck, opossum, mink, and several species of squirrel. Common small animals are the mole, shrew, field mouse, chipmunk, striped gopher, weasel, skunk, and bat. Fish are plentiful in lake and stream -- catfish, pike, pickerel, bass, goggle-eye, and sunfish. Several species of blind fish, all small, inhabit the cave waters. Reptiles and other lower forms differ little from those of other States in the same faunal area.

At the turn of the century about 320 species of birds, nearly all migratory, were known to be residents of this region at some time during the year. Today more than half of them are rare or extinct.

Near Lake Michigan and the dunes, the bird-lover still finds birds from the far north, the plains, the deep woods, and the swamps. South of the dune region in the Kankakee River and swamp area, now partly drained, are many waterfowl and marsh birds, including the fish duck, the teal, the American golden-eyed duck, and the mallard (all winter residents); and the great blue heron, American bittern, and wild goose. In the prairies near these swamps are seen the yellow-winged sparrows and prairie larks. The shy wood thrush is found only in the rare densely forested areas. In the southeastern part of the State, just north of the Ohio, the forests of beech, oak, maple, sweet gum, and black gum attract the Cape May warbler, summer redbird, and black-throated blue warbler.

In the intensely farmed central section are many orchard and meadow birds: the field sparrow, yellow warbler, orchard oriole, robin, meadow lark, redheaded woodpecker, biuejay, bluebird, flicker, cardinal, wren, swallow, and many other species. Most of these birds are found to some extent throughout the rest of the State, but they are most common in this section.

In other parts of Indiana, winter residents include the junco, shore lark, tree sparrow, sapsucker, white snowbird, snowy owl, and waterfowl. In mild winters, however, a few robins, meadow larks, and woodpeckers remain all season. Among game birds, the quail is most common, although it has been wantonly destroyed; and the ruffed grouse is occasionally found.

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